Theresa Griffin’s Weekly Newsletter: 3rd-9th September 2018
Welcome to this week’s update on my recent activities in the European Parliament and North West England!
TV debate on a ‘no deal’ Brexit and a second referendum
I took part in a fascinating televised debate with Phillippe Juvin MEP (S&D, France), and Daniel Dalton MEP (ECR, UK) on the France 24 news channel. I presented the facts and human cost of the impact of the UK leaving the EU and made a strong case for a second referendum, a ‘People’s vote’, in which voters could make the decision as to whether they would prefer to accept whatever deal the UK government manage to reach, which their track record indicates will be a very bad deal for the UK, or to remain a full member of the EU and continue to enjoy the net benefits that this brings. Watch here:
ITRE-TRAN joint committee meeting
One of the highlights of last week was debating and voting in a joint meeting of the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee and Transport and Tourism (TRAN) committee on education in the digital era. I will continue to work on these committees to further the development of the European Digital Single Market (DSM) for the benefit of European citizens. An inclusive Digital Union for Europe can enhance the lives of citizens through greater and fairer access to technology and greater support for research into emerging technologies and tech startups to improve the digital economy.
Last week I called for reductions in car emissions at a horizontal working group at the European Parliament in Brussels. This is a working group made up of MEPs across the political spectrum and other stakeholders. We came together to address the problem of car emissions causing harmful air pollution, which at high levels can reduce life expectancy, and impair the mental abilities of children and newborn babies whose mothers have been exposed to the pollution. Air pollution also adversely impacts upon the local environment and contributes to global climate change. Reducing car emissions will protect citizens and the environment from the many harmful effects of air pollution.
European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP)
I chaired a meeting of the European Parliamentary Labour Party which was joined by Keir Starmer MP, the UK Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. In a constructive meeting, the EPLP discussed recent developments around Brexit, how likely the shambolic Tory negotiators were to miss the October deadline for Brexit agreements and various issues and upcoming events of the national and European Labour parties.
The European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) post-Brexit
I have recorded a statement expressing my frustration with the UK government’s lack of clarity regarding British citizen’s rights post-Brexit. This lack of clarity has led a British citizen living in France to have been told by her local authority that she will cease to have the right to healthcare in France under the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) post-Brexit. The government’s lack of clarity around Brexit has clearly led to confusion whereby both British citizens and other European local authorities do not know what to expect post-Brexit.
S&D Conference: Change the European economic model, for the many, towards a partnership towards SDGs in Europe
The Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, of which I and other UK Labour MEPs am a member, ran a big conference this last week. The conference focused on how the European economic model can be changed to better serve the citizens of Europe and the world. The theme of this conference strongly echoes our national UK Labour Party values of “for the many, not the few”. There were many constructive ideas put forward as to how we, as a national and European level progressive party can better support the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Digital Education in Europe
As the Socialists & Democrats group shadow rapporteur on the opinion for “Education in the digital era: challenges, opportunities and lessons for EU policy design”, I am working towards ensuring that Europeans have the skills to live and work in this digital era. In the very near future extensive digital skills will be vital in order to participate in daily life as well as the workplace. This is why education will play a key role in incorporating the necessary digital skills to our lives.
Meeting with Trade Union Representatives and North West constituents in the Parliament
I welcomed the opportunity to hear the views and answer the questions of representatives from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and European trade unions on the perspectives of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). I was also pleased to meet with and discuss various issues with residents of the North West when they visit Brussels, alongside my colleague, Wajid Khan MEP.
I was happy to discuss with both groups the impact of Brexit and how young Europeans can get involved in politics through trade union movements. As a proud Trade Unionist myself who served for five years as Regional Organiser for the public services union, UNISON, and campaigned with unions as a Liverpool City Councillor and MEP, I understand the concerns of Unions and their desire to ensure workers’ rights are maintained post-Brexit. This was a very effective meeting and I will continue to work alongside unions in support of citizen’s rights and engaging young European in politics and policy making.
Jeremy Corbyn visited Liverpool
I would like to thank Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour party leader, for taking the time to travel by train from Liverpool to Hull last week to demonstrate the travel complications generated by years of underfunding of transport in the North under Tory governments. He highlighted the benefits that Labour’s proposal for a Crossrail for the North would benefit travellers. He has also previously shown support for rail worker unions in the North West in their long running dispute with train company, Northern Rail. As a substitute member of the Transport and Tourism committee in the European Parliament, I have an appreciation of how transport can affect people’s everyday lives and how important it is to improve transport for our citizens, especially in underfunded areas, such as the North West of England.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of my newsletter! Here’s a taster of some of my upcoming activities:
- State of the Union Address at the European Parliament by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
- Plastics: Labour MEPs are set to vote for a report calling for strong action to reduce plastic waste, including microplastics.
- EU Copyright Law.
- Meeting of the Delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China.
- Meeting of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.